Welcome to Melbourne – the bustling capital of Victoria, the smallest continental state of Australia.
With a cosmopolitan population of 4 million including the myriad ethnic communities (it has the largest “Greek” community on the planet outside of Greece and 24,570 Filipinos), Melbourne is big on everything – “culture and arts, Victoria era buildings, high fashion, luxuriant parks, and friendly, sports-minded people”.
Named in honour of Lord Melbourne, once the Prime Minister of England, Melbourne was founded by free settlers, not convicts. The city evolved from its pastoral beginnings on the banks of the Yarra River, city’s main waterway, until the mid 1800’s when the discovery of gold ushered in sudden wealth to Melbourne and with it an influx of migrants from all over the world.
Melbourne is easy to explore. All the city’s places of interest are on or adjacent to the “Golden Mile”, the heart of the metropolis and home to government and commercial hub, shopping district, main hotels, and theatres.
A motorcoach ride through the bay suburbs past through beautiful residential areas of Victorian homes make it easy to get to know the wonder that is Melbourne. The city is also home to world’s largest tram network and could be an alternative means to explore its sites.
One of the city’s notable sights is the ornate Princess Theatre, built in 1882 for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, and regarded as Melbourne’s home for international musical productions.
We drove through one of the most recognizable landmarks of Melbourne, the Flinders Street Station, the central railway station at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets where the “meeting under the clocks” has become a Melbourne cultural institution.
A must-see is the Fitzroy Gardens, the 19th century landscaped gardens laid out across 64 acres with large formal garden beds, walking paths, a superb collection of trees, a conservatory fresh with blooms, and the famous cottage that was once the home of Capt. James Cook.
A permanent and lasting memory to the ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) spirit, the men and women of Victoria who served and those who died in the Great War, is the Shrine of Remembrance, designed with a ray of sunlight falling on the Stone of Remembrance to illuminate the word LOVE at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the exact moment of the armistice ending World War I.
Melbourne has two world-class observation decks, the Melbourne 360 degree Observation Deck (opened in 1994) on the 55th floor of the landmark Rialto Tower and the Eureka Skydeck 88 sitting atop the Eureka Tower, the world’s tallest residential tower, opened in 2007. Both offer awe-inspiring view of the entire city and suburbs. Eureka Skydeck’s lifts are the fastest in the southern hemisphere traveling at more than 9 meters per second.
Ranked in 2009 as the “World’s Best Sport City”, the host city for the 1956 Olympic Games along with 2006 Commonwealth Games, Melbourne is home to three major annual international sporting events: the Australian Tennis Open (one of the 4 Grand Slams tennis tournaments in the world), the Melbourne Cup (horse racing), and the Australian Grand Prix (Formula One). Intensely popular are the “Aussie Rules” (AFL) Football and cricket.
Again, welcome to Melbourne. Remember, it’s one of the top three world’s most livable cities!